In this post we will talk about which are the most appropriate materials to engrave and cut with a CO2 laser machine, focusing mainly on XY table laser machines, or also called gantry in English or plotter type. You can use Laser engraving to make a good logo or display board for your services and products.
These machines emit a beam generated by a tube with a mixture of gases CO2, Nitrogen and Helium that, by means of movements through mirrors located on a bridge and a lens, impacts on the workpiece producing a marking or a cutout.
Beam quality is critical for optimal results. On Gravotech laser machines, the high beam quality enables very fine and intricate engraving and cutting of materials with great precision.
In general terms, CO2 laser engravers and cutters are specific for working on organic materials, that is, materials that are not heat conductors: wood, paper, plastics, acrylics, laminates, leather, rubber, etc.
For this group of materials, CO2 laser machines can engrave and cut without any problem. You just have to be careful when you engrave or cut a material that generates a lot of residue, such as methacrylate, wood or rubber. It is necessary to have a good extraction of smoke and particles and to carry out a periodic cleaning of the laser engraver and cutter.
CO2 laser machines can also work on mineral materials such as: stone, slate, glass, marble, ceramic, mirror, etc.
Only exceptionally can they work directly on metallic materials. In the case of painted, lacquered or anodized metals, the CO2 laser hits the color and evaporates the pigment, leaving a white mark. That is why, in this case, the marking contrast is better on dark surfaces (red, blue, green, black …).
On the other hand, there are other raw metals that can be marked with CO2 laser by applying products that generate a chemical reaction of transformation of the surfaces. The result of the marking using these products is dark and with sufficient contrast. In this post, we explain in detail how to mark all types of metals in black with a CO2 laser.
For groups of mineral or metallic materials, CO2 laser engravers can only make a mark, never a cut of them.
We invite you to watch the video about the Webinar that we carry out on the materials that you can engrave and cut with a CO2 laser:
Materials that can be engraved and or cut with CO2 laser
In general, the CO2 laser performs very well when working on all types of plastic and acrylic materials. You just have to be careful not to engrave or cut PVC because the smoke it generates is toxic and could also damage the components of the laser machine.
As explained before, the CO2 laser can only mark certain metals, some of them with the help of special additives such as Thermark, Cermark or MarkSolid.
The best known are bi-layer acrylics, generically called Gravoply. These materials have two layers so that when the laser hits the top layer, it burns the material and evaporates it, revealing the color of the second layer. In this way, an immediate contrast is generated and there is no need to paint afterwards.
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